Tomato Questions & Answers



Heirloom or Hybrid?

An heirloom tomato is a tomato plant that is more than 50 years old. The seeds have been passed down from generation to generation. When you save the seeds from your heirloom tomato and plant them you will get the same tomato again. These tomatoes tend to be “ugly”, but flavorful.

A hybrid tomato is bred by crossing varieties. These tomatoes are designed to be more dis- ease resistant and yield higher amounts of fruit. Saving seeds from a hybrid tomato and then planting them will not necessarily give you the same tomato plant. Hybrid tomato plants will yield a more uniform fruit with improved traits.

A grafted tomato is a combination of two tomato varieties—one for its outstanding flavor, for example, combined with a specialized hybrid rootstock grown specifically for its vigor and disease resistance, creating a super tomato for the home gardener.

When do tomatoes set fruit?

The smaller the tomato, the earlier it will bear fruit. Tags will tell if a tomato is early, mid- season or late by it’s DTM (Date To Maturity). The DTM is the amount of days from when the seedling is transplanted outside to the date of the first appearance of mature fruit.

See our tomato chart that tells how many days to harvest & if the tomato bears fruit early, mid-season or late.

When do tomatoes set fruit?

The smaller the tomato, the earlier it will bear fruit. Tags will tell days to harvest. See our

tomato chart that tells how many days to harvest & if the tomato bears fruit early, mid- season or late.

What is the difference between Determinate and Indeterminate?

Determinate varieties, many also called “bush,” are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height, approximately 4 feet. The plants stop growing when fruit sets on the ter- minal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a two week period), and then die.

Indeterminate varieties are also called “vining” tomatoes. The plants grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of six feet (or more). They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit throughout the growing season.

What do the letters on tomato tags mean?

A letter or series of letters means that the plant has been bred for disease resistance.

V Verticillium Wilt
F Fusarium Wilt
FF Fusarium, races 1 and 2
FFF Fusarium, races 1, 2, and 3
N Nematodes
A Alternaria
T Tobacco Mosaic Virus
St Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TSWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Keep your plants healthy

Water during dry spells and keep the plants well fed during the growing season.

Mulching around the bottom of the plant will help lessen competition from weeds, retain moisture and provide a protective barrier that helps stop soil borne diseases from splashing up and onto the plants.

Mark Adams’ tomatoes (photo taken 6/29/14):


6.29 tomato closeup

Tomato cages and stakes help to support your tomato plants.


tomato cages


pantyhose tying tomato to stake

Grafted tomato “Brandywine”

grafted brandywinde tomato

Tomatoes: Challenges & Solutions

Cracking: The tomatoes are getting too much moisture and nutrients. Solution: Cut back on the nutrients.

Fruits have dry, dark areas near the ends: Caused by dry, hot, or fluctuating moisture conditions.

Solution – keep plants well watered during dry conditions and make sure they’re watered consistently.

Tomato Horn worms: Take ’em off and kill ’em. If you see a tomato horn worm with eggs on it, leave it alone. A helpful wasp has visited your plant and laid its eggs and will get rid of the horn worms for you.

tomato horn worm

Blight (Old leaves have brown or black spots):

To prevent: Spray with copper before this happens, in early July, before the tomatoes are ready to eat, when the fruits are about the size of a nickel.


Blossom End Rot: Caused from calcium deficiency. Solution: Increase calcium.

Use for old eggshells: They act as a calcium supplement for your toma- toes, to help prevent blossom end rot. Crushing the shells helps them break down more quickly.


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